Mathematics Education

Virtual Manipulatives Used by K-8 Teachers for Mathematics Instruction: Considering Mathematical, Cognitive, and Pedagogical Fidelity

by Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham, Gwenanne Salkind & Johnna J. Bolyard
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This study examined teachers’ uses of virtual manipulatives across grades K-8 after participating in a professional development institute in which manipulatives and technology were the major resources used throughout all of the activities. Researchers analyzed 95 lesson summaries in which classroom teachers described their uses of virtual manipulatives during school mathematics instruction. The findings indicated that the content in a majority of the lessons focused on two National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000a) standards: Number & Operations and Geometry. Virtual geoboards, pattern blocks, base-10 blocks, and tangrams were the applets used most often by teachers. The ways teachers used the virtual manipulatives most frequently focused on investigation and skill solidification. It was common for teachers to use the virtual manipulatives alone or to use physical manipulatives first, followed by virtual manipulatives. One important finding of this study was that teachers used the virtual manipulatives during the main portion of their lessons when students were learning mathematics content. These results represent an initial exploration of teachers’ current use of virtual manipulatives in K-8 classrooms.

Social Studies Education

An Analysis of Electronic Media to Prepare Children for Safe and Ethical Practices in Digital Environments

by Ilene R. Berson, Michael J. Berson, Shreya Desai, Donald Falls & John Fenaughty
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A range of electronic resources, including video-based instruction, are used to promote cybersafety to young people at school. This evaluation analyzed seven distinct programs that use electronic media in Internet safety initiatives in schools. The findings highlight emerging evidence on successful approaches to engage children in assessing risky cybersafety situations, developing appropriate management techniques, and practicing responsible decision making online. Based on the prevention effectiveness literature and the tenets of behavior decision theory, a rubric was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of online instructional materials in teaching ethical behavior in digital environments. The rubric demonstrates that high quality cybersafety resources are based on a coherent theoretical framework, integrate multiple program components, and allow for skill rehearsal.


Web-Supported Communities for Professional Development: Five Cautions

by Hedieh Najafi & Anthony Clarke
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This interpretive case study explores an attempt to add an online component—the On-line Literacy Project—to a successful face-to-face professional development community. Participants were six members of the Literacy Project, which was carried out in the school board of a western Canadian city. The principal theoretical framework informing the study was Lave and Wegner’s (1991) community of practice. Analysis of data, collected over 7 months, showed that although participants acknowledged the potential of the Online Literacy Project the concept was poorly understood, received little support, and was not deemed relevant for a number of reasons, many of which are reported in the information and communication technology literature. However, a number of distinctive factors emerged in this study that serve as cautions for others interested in similar professional development endeavors.

Current Practice

Multimedia Technologies and Familiar Spaces: 21st-Century Teaching for 21st-Century Learners

by Judy Lambert & Pru Cuper
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This article explores 21st century skills, nonlinear thinking skills, and the need for student reflection—which, taken together, serve as an essential foundation for digital-age teaching of today’s hypertext learners. The authors discuss why preservice teachers need to use multimedia technologies within the context of students’ familiar, technology-rich living spaces to develop their own teaching skills and the technology skills of their students. Exemplary multimedia samples are offered as demonstrations of ways to develop essential technology-related skills in the next generation of teachers.

Seminal Articles